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Syrian troops advance in rebel-held region

05 March, 2018, 00:32 | Author: Priscilla Morrison
  • Syria Control of Terrain- 22 FEB 2018-page-001

Government forces engaged in clashes with rebels in the eastern area of the enclave on Sunday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, after advances in recent days that saw the government seize control of 10 percent of the region.

Orient TV, which supports the opposition to Bashar al-Assad, said advances by regime forces had triggered large-scale displacement.

Separately, the rebel group Jaish al-Islam said in a statement Saturday that its fighters had also retreated from two other areas in the east of Eastern Ghouta, accusing the regime of employing a "scorched earth" strategy of bombardment. U.S. President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Thursday for its immediate implementation. "We were first besieged in an enormous prison called eastern Ghouta, now we are trapped in shelters similar to tombs", Mohsen said.

The multi-sided Syrian war, which has killed hundreds of thousands of people since 2011, has escalated on several fronts this year, as the collapse of Islamic State has given way to other conflicts between Syrian and global parties.

The Observatory, which relies on a network of sources on the ground, said rebels had retaken some parts of Shifoniya.

The attacks carried out by the Assad regime and its supporters in Eastern Ghouta have killed more than 700 civilians according to reports.

Eastern Ghouta is one of the last major rebel-held areas of the country, which has been ravaged by civil war for nearly seven years.

The Observatory estimated that between 300 to 400 families, which is likely several thousand people, had fled areas seized by government forces since Saturday.

"Most of it is farms and there are few towns in (the captured area)", Observatory Directory Rami Abdulrahman told Reuters.




The UN's regional humanitarian coordinator for Syria, Panos Moumtzis, sounded the alarm over the increased violence.

"This collective punishment of civilians is simply unacceptable".

The convoy of some 40 trucks had been due to go to Douma in the regime-besieged enclave near Damascus, where some 400,000 people need food, medical and other supplies, the United Nations says. A second trip was planned for Thursday.

"They discussed Syria, and the appalling humanitarian situation in Eastern Ghouta", it said.

The clashes between regime forces and rebels come after Russian Federation on Tuesday started a daily five-hour "humanitarian pause".

"They agreed it was a humanitarian catastrophe, and that the overwhelming responsibility for the heart-breaking human suffering lay with the Syrian regime and Russian Federation, as the regime's main backer", the statement added.

The army has been accused of targeting civilians, but it says it is trying to liberate the area from those Damascus describes as terrorists.

At least 76 pro-regime fighters and 43 rebels from Jaish al-Islam have also been killed in clashes since February 25, it says.

"We will continue to fight terrorism". The YPG has been an important ally for the United States in the fight against Islamic State.

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